A little play on words, but as newer information is available, older concepts no longer exist. At one time, total cholesterol was considered to be the standard for treatment with a statin, then later, the ratios of good cholesterol, (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL), became the launching pad for treatment approaches – statins, binders etc.
While there have been many advancements in treatment approaches, what I find lacking is looking at both the “too” high and “too” low numbers. Often interpretation stops at the standard lipid panel. While this may be just okay for screening, nothing replaces a good assessment and history taking with a patient. Often, clues during the assessment provide information for a more in-depth consideration for lab assessment with potential medication or supplement intervention.
It is also note-worthy to consider the challenges of a “too” low cholesterol number. A low cholesterol can be harmful to the brain and a high HDL can also show potential inflammation.
Begin by looking at personal history, family history, labs, medications and lifestyle. The next step will be dietary modification, fitness suggestions, sleep and stress intervention. If the LDL is above 160 and ideally has been further tested to observe if the particles are light and fluffy or small and dense (the harmful LDL), better interventions can be considered.
I no longer reduce fats to an all-time low and I do not omit saturated fat (butter, coconut oil, red meat). Instead, choose organic, grass fed options – lower stress for the animal, as well as higher omega content of the meat. Type and amount of fat can be adjusted based on the expanded lipid profiles now available by specialty companies.
Sleep hygiene is also a challenging area for many. We live in a time when lights are often not shut off until after the repair cycle begins in the brain. The body has a miraculous, built-in clock that scans and supports repair, regeneration and growth of cells, tissues and organs during sleep. When interrupted, stress hormones are secreted, along with other inflammatory chemicals and these substances can irritate the lining of the arteries, resulting in cholesterol and calcium adherence and subsequent clogging.
It’s all about balance. We only need to look outside the window to see how nature follows this rule so beautifully.
In health and balance